Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Take-along Snacks - For the Road

I'm sure we all know how it is when we're traveling . . . we load up on snacks and junk food. This year I'm trying to leave out the junk and have come up with some easy healthy snacks to take along with us on the road.

String cheese -- My kids love the Kraft Twist-ums cheese where you get mozzarella and cheddar twisted together.

Blue Diamond almonds -- We're a peanut free home and that's why we love Blue Diamond almonds. They're one of the few nuts that are completely peanut free. They're also packed full of vitamins and minerals and are high in protein. They make a great salty snack and my kids LOVE 'em.

Dried fruit -- This is what we call "real fruit snacks". Raisins, craisins and apricots are our favorite. I also just bought a pack of dried mangos to try. We'll see how we like them while we're on the road next week.

Bite sized fruit -- Grapes and blueberries are great for the car. They can be popped in your mouth and are mess free--well, depending on who's
eating them . . .

Carrot sticks -- We can't forget the vegetables--and mini carrots are always a popular choice.

Crackers -- I've always loved Annie's Homegrown and we've recently become fans of the new Annie's Snack Mix. The kids love it, and I love that it's all natural and organic. The best part is that it's very affordable too. I stock up on boxes of this stuff when they go on sale at Target for $2. That's a price you can't beat!

Homemade fruit gummies -- These little jello bites are perfect for popping in your mouth. They're sweet and tangy and have a little fat to keep you feeling satisfied. My favorite recipes are these Lemon Gummies and these Coconut Lime Gummies. They're simple enough to make ahead of time and a fun snack to pull out when everyone is in need of a treat.

Granola bar bites -- This is another great snack to make ahead of time (or have the kids make them) to pull out when you're getting the munchies. Find the recipe here

    . . . But you have to have a little junk food too. My kids already know we never go on a trip without licorice. Yum Earth is our favorite brand lately.

    What are your favorite healthy snacks for the road?

    Monday, June 6, 2016

    Washi Frame and Free Printables - "Let's Get Crafty" Party

    Last month I shared my daughter's "Let's Get Crafty" birthday party. It was so much fun! (You can find all the details here.)
    One of the crafts the girls made at the party were these washi tape frames.

    It ended up being a great craft for this age group of 9-10 year olds. I was worried that I might have chosen a craft that was too difficult or frustrating for them, but was actually surprised how quickly they were able to design their frames and how much fun they had doing it.

    I picked up my frames from Michael's. I really liked this frame design. It's a cute style. I actually bought a variety of styles for the girls to pick from but every single girl picked this style frame. Go figure. These frames are such a good value at only $1 a piece. I had a coupon for an extra 30% off my entire purchase so they turned out to be a really good deal.

    I bought a bunch of washi tape and the girls enjoyed picking out the patterned tape that match their rooms and to make their frame unique.

    Here's how to make a washi tape frame:

    Decide on what colors and patterned tape you want to use. Then place strips of the tape across the frame leaving a little extra hanging off each end. I started the tape on my frame at the top and moved downward. If I were to make another one though I would start in the center and moved outward to each end, this way the pattern will end up the same on the ends.

    Once you have all your tape on the frame flip it over and use an exacto knife to cut off the excess tape.

    You can see the exacto knife does a great job of making a crisp/sharp cut.

    Here's the frame with all the tape placed on and the excess cut off.

    I then applied a thin layer of  Mod Podge over the entire surface of the frame. This keeps the tape in place so none of it starts to peel off.

    Here it is all done!

    These are a few of the the frames the girls made on the day of the party. I loved the patterns and designed they chose to do. I did all the cutting with the exacto knife so this project kept me pretty busy during the party. Somehow I was able to get them all trimmed, covered with Mod Podge and dried before it was time for the girls to go home.

    Here's the birthday girl with her completed frame.

    I made a few different printables for the girls to choose from to put in their frame. They had fun picking out the saying they liked best. One the girls was excited to see the one that said, "Be so happy that when others look at you they become happy too." She told me it was her life motto!

    Below are your free printables. Simple click on the image to enlarge then copy and paste into a word document. Enjoy!

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    "Let's Get Crafty" Birthday Party for Tweens

    My daughter turned 10 this month.  Man, does that make me feel old!
    My kids get to have a birthday party with friends every three years. It feels like I was just throwing her 7 year old baking themed party--and just like that it's three years later and time to start party planning again. It's amazing how time flies! To celebrate turning 10 she decided on a craft themed party this year. My daughter is super creative and very talented artistically so it wasn't surprising that she chose to spend time with her friends doing something she loves.
    "Let's Get Crafty" Birthday Party for Tweens, arty party, craft party, tween birthday

    I like to involve my kids as much as possible when planning their birthday parties so it turns out to be everything they hoped for--and my daughter is a great party planner; she had been doing it since she was four years old after all.  I put my daughter in charge of decorating the party invitations because I knew she would be great at it. She had fun using her creativity to make them each unique. She used my stash of washi tape to create her designs. I like how she made each one different. They turned out so cute!
    Washi tape birthday invitations, craft party, art party, tween party

    This birthday cake one was my favorite.
    Washi tape birthday invitations, art party, craft party, tween birthday

    I loved how these invitations folded in the back.

    They opened up to display all the party details.

    We decorated in pink and blue--my daughters favorite colors . . . and mine too!

    When friends arrived they got to pick from these adult coloring pages to color while waiting for the other guests to arrive.

    After everyone arrived I introduced the girls to the projects we would be working on. The first was a monogram canvas art. Beforehand I drew the first initial of each girl on the canvas for her to decorate. (I did them lightly in pencil--so that's why you can't see them in the picture below.) I pinned several ideas on my craft party Pinterest board to share with them and to help them brainstorm ideas of how they'd like to decorate their canvas. I decided to have them decorate with sharpie markers instead of paint. Paint just felt too messy for me. I added some buttons to the table too if they wanted to use them as part of their art. I wish I had snapped a picture of the final product--but I got too busy hosting a party and all.  They all turned out unique and creative.  It was fun to see what everyone came up with.

    After the canvas art we made these washi tape frames. The girls loved this project! I was worried this craft would eat up a lot of time but they were actually able to complete them pretty quickly.

    I provided them with a variety of washi tape to choose from and a blank wood frame. I bought a ton of different styled frames from Michaels so they would have a variety to choose from.  Funny enough they all chose the same style frame.

    Next week I will share a more detailed tutorial on the frames but here are a few of the completed ones. I think they turned out so nice.  The girls got to choose a quote to put inside their frames before they went home--I'll be sharing those next week too.

    Here's the birthday girl with her completed frame. It looks so cute sitting on her dresser in her room now.

    I provided some snacks for the girls to munch on while working on their projects.  Popcorn, fresh cut fruit, and for my sweet tooth birthday girl--candy cups filled with sour jelly beans, strawberry licorice and pomegranate gummy bears.

    After the girls completed their projects we played a few games. I tried to come up with games that included drawing to keep with the theme of the party.

    The first game we played was called The Sentence Game. It's kind of like the game telephone but instead of whispering a phrase you write a sentence, then draw a picture, then write a sentence. Once your paper makes it around the room and back to you its fun to see how your original sentence ended up. It was a fun and silly game. You can find the free printable game and detailed instructions at The Red Headed Hostess.

    To fill in our extra time after opening presents and before parents came we played pictionary. I used these printable Pictionary words.  I set up our easel white board and split the girls into two teams. Some of the words I marked with a pink dot. If they pulled one of those words it was an all-play and either team could guess. The girls had a great time.

    Instead of cake my daughter decided on these rice crispy treat paint brushes. She spied them on Pinterest and thought they looked like fun.  I don't think you can really go wrong with rice crispy treats. I used Mel's Brown Buttered Vanilla Rice Krispy Treat recipe and they tasted amazing. We dipped them in a blue icing and added a stick to the top. So fun and festive!

    Each girl was given a small goody bag before she left. I tried to keep them pretty simple since they had their crafts to take home too. The bags were filled with a small note book, pencils, and a few pieces of candy.

    Hooray for celebrations and a successful party day!

    Monday, May 2, 2016

    DIY Toy Stethoscope (and a giveaway of the book Teddy Bear Doctor!)

    DIY Toy Stethoscope Doc McStuffins Doctor Felt veterinarian

    One of the things I love most about being a mom is watching my kids play. I love to see them dress up and watch where their imaginations take them. Pretend play is such a magical and important part of childhood and learning.

    Last month I hosted my four-year-olds preschool co-op group. We learned all about the letter V.  After talking about what words start with V and having vegetables for a snack the fun really started.  Each child was given a badge (I printed off these adorable ones from Kids Activities Blog) and a stethoscope and became a veterinarian for the morning.  We talked about what a veterinarian is and what a veterinarian does (I thought this clip from Sesame Street was perfect).  I set up part of the house to be a make-believe veterinarian clinic. We had a waiting room with chairs and an exam room stocked with bandages and medical instruments to take care of hurt animals.  We sorted all the sick animals (my children all donated their stuffed animals for the morning for us to use) and graphed them to see how many we had of each (to squeeze some math learning in there) and then the kids got to take turns caring for the animals.  I printed out these dramatic play veterinarian clinic printables for each little veterinarian to use.  They took temperatures, listened to heart beats, pulled splinters, gave shots, and wrapped up sore paws.

    My group of four year olds had so much fun playing animal doctor!

    Listening to a heart beat . . .

    Filling out paper work . . .

    This little puppy must have had a really sore paw.  I think he got every bandage in the room wrapped around it!

    The kids loved having their own name badge and stethoscope to play with and take home. They were so simple to put together too. I picked up a pack of six headbands from the dollar store, cut 12 circles from felt and six hearts, and found some ribbon scraps from my stash.
    DIY Toy Stethoscope

    I sandwiched the ribbon between two felt circles, glued them all together along with heart on the top circle.

    The top of the ribbon got hot glued around the center of the headband. I also wrapped and glued the ends of the the headband with some felt so little ears were safe from getting poked.  I noticed that the kids preferred to keep the stethoscope around their neck though--they didn't really put it up to their ears.

    All done and ready to play!
    DIY Toy Stethoscope

    Just perfect for caring for any stuffed animal friend.
    DIY Toy Stethoscope

    Here's the whole batch. These could make a fun party favor for a Doc McStuffins party or something similar.
    DIY Toy Stethoscope, Doc McStuffins, Veterinarian, Felt, Party Favor, Doctor

    And one more bit of important information . . .

    I wanted to tell you about this absolutely adorable book I found at my library while searching for children's books about veterinarians. I really wish I had found it before I had all my preschool preparations done. It's called Teddy Bear Doctor.
    DIY Toy Stethoscope Teddy Bear Doctor

    I was blown away with how clever and thought out this book was. It is packed full of creative ideas that will help your child create their own make-believe vet practice. The book starts out with projects for your child to make a "pet vet kit". It teaches them how to make a thermometer, syringe, stethoscope, and lab coat using everyday household items. The book then walks them through creating a waiting room, exam room, and recovery room. And my most favorite part of the book is found in the back. There you will find stickers and removable pages to aid your child in creating all the projects in the book. There are also patient check-in forms, appointment cards, exam checklists, and prescription forms. This book has it all! And it is all oh-so-cute!

    Teddy Bear Doctor

    Teddy Bear Doctor

    A copy of Teddy Bear Doctor paired with a new plush toy would make such a fun gift! It's only $4.79 on Amazon right now. For that price you might as well get two copies . . . or three!

    ***Giveaway Closed***
    So how can you enter to win? Simply leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page telling us who you would love to share this book with.
    Giveaway ends May 7, 2016

    Don't want to wait to win? Pick up a copy here.